04 January 2012

'In Our Time' and Tom Morris - Where are you, when you're needed most?

I stumbled across this old 'plea' of mine from 10 months ago, trying to get Tom Morris to 'do' the story of Wigner, Weinberg and MSRs. I believe now, as I did then, that an IOT programme in which Melvyn Bragg could describe and develop 'the saddest accident of history' would make one of the most memorable IOT programmes ever; it would reveal facts of 20th Century history never previously presented to BBC listeners (or viewers).

I Love In Our Time graphic

Dear Tom Morris,

Suggestions for future In Our Time Programmes.

May I suggest a subject which is paradoxical in the extreme? I speak of a 50 year old, proven technology which can solve many of the worst problems facing humankind, including the cessation of anthropogenic greenhouse gasses emissions and mitigation of population growth.

Experimentation into this technology in the USA, in the early 1950s, revealed that it was militarily ineffective and thereafter, research and development was done on shoestring financing, with low-key attention to the enormity of the potential benefits in the civilian sphere. Even though operational units were producing results which gave rise to great optimism, all work ceased in the early 70’s and all that remained was a paper archive, recording what had been achieved and what the future could hold.

This paper goldmine gathered dust for 30 years, when it was unearthed by an Indiana Jones figure, who poured over every word and discovered a story of political/military in-fighting. The winners went on to give us the world we have today and the losers lost the opportunity to have prevented the past 50 years of escalating greenhouse gasses emissions.

Within the past month, the Chinese have announced their intentions to pursue this technology through a programme of manufacture, and claim all of the associated intellectual property. In the UK, the economics of meeting our future energy needs and carbon targets by using this technology, could be so compelling that we might well be importing Chinese-made units by the container ship full, within a couple of decades.

I’m absolutely convinced this subject would be a perfect topic for In Our Time, with Kirk (Indiana) Sorensen being able to describe the rediscovery of the work done by Eugene Wigner and Alvin Weinberg, at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and their dedication to the promotion of the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR).

With sufficient thorium available to fuel the energy needs of everyone on the planet for thousands, if not tens of thousands, of years, at developed-world standards, LFTRs effectively give us all of the benefits of energy from fusion now. The effect LFTRs can have on the future of humankind is immeasurable and hardly anyone knows about it. In Our Time revelations would go a long way to remedying this.


Colin Megson.

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